Monday, March 24, 2014

What Type of Growth for Pelham?

As I have written about before, Pelham has a few lands available for new growth – the largest being the “East Fonthill” area.

While much of the nearly 450 acres of East Fonthill lands have been farmed for years, the entire area was added to the Urban Boundary by an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) in 2000.

Recent questions in local media about whether property owners should be allowed to develop on those lands would have been asked and answered during the OMB’s weeks of hearings nearly 15 years ago.

When the OMB gave those approvals back then, one thing became inevitable – that growth would occur in Pelham.

What wasn't inevitable was the type of development – how it looked, how it felt, how many people living and working in the areas.

The OMB’s East Fonthill decision, for example, required the Town to undertake a more detailed planning process – a “Secondary Plan” – before allowing development to proceed.

The Town started to carefully develop the Plan in 2001; this included significant public sessions and hearings. The community wanted East Fonthill to include “…a full range and mix of housing types, a linked open space network that includes a variety of types of public parks, …protection of existing environmental features, and the community structure…[to] maximize connectivity within the community itself and to the Town Centre.”

More recent additions to the Plan include “walkability and cyclability”, the potential for community facilities, and the protection of the recently revitalized Fonthill Downtown.

After working diligently for many years, Council approved such a Plan in April 2012. After the Region approved it in October 2012, it was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. Those small issues were settled in October 2013 and the OMB approved the Plan on January 30, 2014, making the Plan a reality.

What’s next? Other public planning approvals – a draft Site Master Plan, zoning, site plans, neighbourhood plans – are required before finalizing development and shovels hit the ground.

And, Council wants your help on these next phases of deciding the type of development.

As I wrote about last month, with the help of Nationally-recognized urban designers and planners, Council developed a draft Site Master Plan for the commercial / mixed use area of East Fonthill (the northern part along Regional Road 20). We are seeking your feedback on that draft plan. Did we get it right? Have we reflected the wishes on the community on the type of development? What can we do to make it even better?

Please help Council improve these plans and ultimately the type of development that will occur in Pelham. Only with your help can we fulfill one of our major strategic goals: “Maintain our small-town feel as we grow.”

Please review the East Fonthill draft Master Plan and other documents at